Botswana-Sweden poetry show this weekend

This Saturday the Botswana- Sweden poetry exchange will host a night of poetry and spoken word at the Mantlwaneng (Westwood school auditorium). The poetry show will bring together 8 poets from Sweden and Botswana and the event promises to be an evening filled with original stories crafted by locally and international celebrated word smiths.

“Gaborone based SAUTI A&PM in conjunction with the Ordsprak International Poetry Festival and the Nordic Africa Institute, with the generous financial support of the Swedish Arts Council, will host 4 Swedish poets in Gaborone during the period 20-24 November, 2013. Four Batswana poets (Moroka Moreri, TJ Dema, Barolong Seboni and Drea) have already been to Sweden as part of this project between 1-6 Octobers, giving readings in Stockholm, Uppsala and Tierp,” said the festival coordinator TJ Dema.

The international poets who will grace the festival are Jorgen Gassilewski, Henry Bowers, Sam Kessel and Laura Wihlborg who are all experienced writers and performers. Music will be provided by the Unseen DJ, live literature (short story reading) by Wame Molefhe, contemporary Setswana poetry by Idle and Spoken as well as beat boxing and vocals by KK.

When asked about the concept behind the collaboration, TJ Dema said, “Sauti Arts and Performance Management programs workshops, performances, creates recording/publishing opportunities for local writers as well as supports other organizations efforts to create a thriving cultural landscape in and around the city of Gaborone. A community building live literature project such as this BW-SE exchange is right up our alley.”
She added that the event is the first of its kind to take place in Botswana in the sense that it is a unique collaboration between Botswana and Sweden,  “But of course there are local open mic sessions hosted regularly here in the city as well as in places like Maun by various collectives,” she added.

Commenting on the qualities they were looking for in the poets that would be taking part in the show Dema said, “There are a host of traits we look for like artist reputation, likability, flexibility among others but basically we were looking for poets who have a proven track record of producing and sharing quality work publicly,  whether via performances, publishing or online. The Swedish poets were selected by their home country coordinator Maria Bjork while Sauti A&PM took care of the local selection. For a number of practical reasons which include funding. We were limited to nominating 4 poets for the exchange but obviously that list is not exhaustive and so we have added a few local voices for the event we are hosting at Mantlwaneng Auditorium.”

Both the Swedish poets expected to grace the show, have traceable experience in the spoken word as Gassilewski’s first collection of poems, Du (You) came out in 1987 and his poetry is collected in a 3 volume box set – Hittills samlad poesi 1983-2009. He runs OEI, a magazine for experimental writing. In 2006 he published the documentary novel ‘The Gothenburg events’. Henry Bowers is one of Europe’s leading slam-poets. Known and acclaimed as one of Sweden’s best hip-hop acts, he is also known as Kung Henry. Laura Wihlborg is a poet and Poetry Slam champion. Her poems are about everyday situations, worries and thoughts, always with a dark and comic twist. She represented Sweden at Poetry Parnassus in London – an international poetry festival featuring poets from over 200 countries. Wihlborg performed at the International Literature Festival in Berlin and has toured Europe with the poetry show Smoke and Mirrors. Sam Kessel is an actor and poet, having started in feature films and TV but now mainly acts on stage. This year he is starring in the theater show “God is away on business” based on Tom Waits music. Kessel won the Triathlon Swedish National Slam award 2009.